It’s one thing to be distressed by the infamous Capitol riot of January 6 – few among us are not, for various, even opposite reasons – or to support nonpartisan investigations into the event and measures which might prevent future mass protests from spiraling out of control. It’s quite another to weaponize your upset in service of the enemy. And if Dick Cheney, of all people, can’t see how he is being used by his new best friends on the left to help champion their radical legislation designed to federalize elections (lest another 1/6 happen) then we can’t help him.
Now, you may have thought it a misprint to put the name of Bush 43’s vice president and the expression “friends on the left” in the same sentence, but that’s how jaw-dropping it was for so many to read that the former vice president had joined his severely Trump-deranged daughter in the Democrats’ January 6 theater conducted on Capitol Hill to a packed audience. I mean, who doesn’t remember how Cheney was Hitler to the left before Trump assumed the role. Just how badly did the left hate him? The very mention of his name would predictably send liberals into conniption fits not dissimilar to those on daily display during the Trump presidency.
But this was a different man than the one who left office 13 years ago. Asked why he chose to participate in the ceremony orchestrated by Democrats to maximize coverage of the January 6 anniversary, Cheney dove into the deep end of the pool: “you can’t overestimate how important [Jan. 6] is … I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution … it’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks that I knew when I was here for 10 years – dramatically.”
You might be among the many who have reacted to this apparent Benedict Arnold maneuver with incredulity. The simple question is, why? We can understand that he’s a loyal family man by most accounts, and thus can reasonably be expected to come to the aid of his daughter as she absorbs a pounding for being the outspoken fly in the GOP’s pro-Trump ointment. But why would he volunteer to let those who despised and spat upon him orchestrate the narrative that “1/6 was such a threat to democracy that even Dick Cheney was outspoken about the insurrection …”? Why does this legendary politician want to deliberately infuriate the almost 90% of GOP voters who view Trump favorably? Is it because Cheney’s failing inside-the-beltway conservative establishment has been permanently displaced by the bombastic billionaire?
Beyond that, why is the longtime rock-ribbed conservative willing to toss his good name on the right – built over decades, discarded in a day – overboard for a lost cause? As his daughter, Liz Cheney, faces near-certain defeat in her statewide congressional district – unless a crowded field of challengers splits the swelling anti-Cheney vote – perhaps her father has not received the really bad news from the latest poll measuring Trump’s approval. While Joe Biden’s favorability sinks as low as the 30’s in a trio of polls and low 40’s in the rest, Donald Trump receives 52% approval in the latest Rasmussen survey, higher than when he left office. And those crucial independent swing voters give Trump 51% approval, while Biden lingers in the 20’s in most recent polls. It seems ol’ Dick has stepped on to a ship sinking faster by the day.
Of course, don’t cry for the Cheneys, Argentina. Like most former members of Congress, especially those connected with the K Street corporate wing of the Republican Party, Liz Cheney will land on her feet with an exponentially higher salary and inevitable sweetheart deal to author a virtue-signaling book on how she fought a lonely, courageous battle to save the GOP and the country from the plague – not COVID, but Trump.
But does her father really not see the handwriting on the wall, that his ill-fated daughter is headed for an inglorious, involuntary exit in November at the hands of Wyoming’s wildly pro-Trump voters? Maybe yes, maybe no, or maybe he just doesn’t care anymore. But in any case, now that he has drained his reservoir of goodwill among his lifelong political allies, he will have only his longtime sworn enemies left to embrace him.
~ Read more from Tim Donner.